Marketing, confidentiality

When potentially valuable technology has been identified and protected, Oxford University Innovation works closely with the inventors to commercialise the technology. This involves identifying the right partner for the commercial development and exploitation of the technology in the marketplace.

It is easy to choose the wrong partner and a number of considerations should be addressed when choosing partner(s). This includes:

  • sufficient resources to take the technology to market

  • real intent to develop the technology as it may compete with in-house programmes

  • awareness of access of the final products, where applicable, to developing countries

The last point, involving partly ethical concerns, is of particular relevance to human healthcare technologies and researchers should discuss with us appropriate measures which can be taken.

Oxford University Innovation will write a one page, non-confidential, summary of the invention in conjunction with the inventor which is initially distributed to the members of the Oxford University Innovation Society, a group of leading industrial companies and potential investors.

One month after launching the technology to the Oxford University Innovation Society, we then contact other potential licensees and publish the opportunity on our website. We actively encourage networking between potential licensees and researchers, and we welcome commercial leads from researchers.

Marketing

Following expressions of interest from companies, OUI will arrange meetings to discuss possible commercial transactions with a view to entering into option, evaluation or licensing arrangements.  You are likely to be involved in this as companies often want to hear directly from the researcher. Depending on the wishes, goals and needs of all concerned, the commercial transaction may also involve consultancy, service work or the funding of further research.

Confidentiality

Academic researchers love to talk about their work, and sharing information is a vital part of being in academia. When it comes to talking to companies though, you need to think about what you share, and how. Your information is valuable, and knowledge that seems obvious to you may not be apparent to the person you are talking to.

We can help researchers wishing to enter detailed discussions about their inventions with third parties by putting in place a confidentiality (or non-disclosure) agreement. This protects both sides as the company may wish to share information with you too.

Keeping information confidential until it can be protected by, for example, patents is often essential in establishing links with industry.  It is far harder to encourage a company to fund research or to licence technology if the company has no privileged or exclusive access to the research work.

Do:

  • Give only outline information about work not published
  • Talk freely about your already-published work
  • Put a confidentiality agreement in place if you need to have a detailed discussion before patenting
  • Think about whether you want to protect your IP at an early stage, before you start to publish anything at all about the work
  • In discussions with potential commercial partners, stick to talking about the use and purpose of the work – what it can do, rather than how you do it – at least until you have a confidentiality agreement in place

Dont:

  • Give away the detail of unpublished work without a confidentiality agreement
  • Talk in detail about the nitty-gritty of what you do at an early stage, ahead of patenting or publication
  • Get drawn into discussion without a confidentiality agreement, particularly before patenting
  • Post key details on your website, or social media, or publish abstracts, and only realise later that you think it’s commercially useful and you should have protected it first
  • Give away all your best knowledge at a very early stage

Confidentiality agreements

Unless published for academic reasons, it is very important that researchers do not discuss their inventions with third parties without the protection of a confidentiality (or non-disclosure) agreement (available from us). This is the case even when a patent application has been filed.

Outline or selected information about the technology is possibly of value to companies and can be obtained by companies from preliminary discussions with researchers.

Confidentiality agreements are necessary when you wish to disclose confidential information to a company in the early stages of discussions which may lead to research collaboration, or licensing of intellectual property.

Keeping information confidential until it can be protected is often essential in establishing links with industry. It is far harder to encourage a company to fund research or to licence technology if the company has no privileged or exclusive access to the research work.

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